J-Street: the fifth column

They have concerns when a “settler leader” is appointed to a diplomatic post? Why? Why not have concerns when someone who is so left-wing that they have little connection with the Jewish dynamic of Israel is appointed to a position?

J-Street talk about two State solutions. The problem with them is that their starting point is not that any such discussion should be based on Israel as the State for JEWS. Would they accept talks that spoke of a State for Palestinians which was Judenrein? The answer is yes, they would. Their hypocrisy knowns no bounds and is consistent with the rhetoric of the left wing Reform movement which shares many practices with traditional Judaism, but is a tangential religion. I’d say that Shiites and Sunnis have more in common than Reform/J-Street and traditional orthodox Judaism. We are different though: we don’t kill each other over differences.

J-Street state:

 In the last year several Israeli officials in the US have “sent the message that Israel’s government is far more serious about legitimizing and entrenching settlements than they are about the two-state solution.”

Why can’t they be? Mahmoud Abbas is more serious about legitimising and entrenching hatred, incitement and terrorism than he is about a two state solution. He might want a two state solution, but every Palestinian leader knows that he or she will end up with their head blown to smithereens by their own if they ever signed an agreement with Israel, even if it was based on the indefensible 1967 borders.

As the Jerusalem Post noted:

The organization cited the appointment of Danny Danon as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Ron Dermer’s decision to send out gift packages filled with settlement products to officials and Tzipi Hotovely’s call for Israeli diplomats to tell the world that “this country is all ours. We didn’t come here to apologize for that” as examples.

Clearly J-Street have not read the EU declaration on its labelling policy. There is nothing illegal about the products. They simply must be labelled because they don’t fall under the EU’s definition of Israel and the free trade agreement.

J-Street are so left-wing, I do not know how they could cope with the following truisms of David Ben Gurion which are as true then as they are now, let alone Isaac Herzog’s doctrine of walled separation.

If your Ivrit isn’t good, it is well worth watching this with someone who can translate. One can guess what Ben Gurion would have thought of J-Street and their unwelcome incursions into Israeli diplomatic appointments. J-Street forget that they do not vote for the Prime Minister of Israel of his coalition. If they want to grand stand, they do harm. If they want to influence, then I’d suggest discussing issues with Israel directly is an approach that is more positive.

J-Street quote a Conservative “Rabbi” as support against Trump when he says

Donald Trump’s words weren’t the worst part of his appearance before the world’s largest annual Jewish gathering, the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC. The standing ovations from many in the Verizon Center when he attacked the President of the United States were.

The last time I looked one was permitted to express disdain for the policies of a President. Isn’t it time any group who feel badly done by are not attacked by J-Street for doing so? Goodness only knows, J-Street would be doing so if Donald Trump became president. The move to the right by the USA is entirely linked to the extreme move to the left and the inactive diplomacy of Obama. He is widely seen as ineffective. This is also borne out by the fact that all of a sudden Saudi Arabia has formed a large coalition of Arab countries file under its direction, and declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. This would never have happened if Obama had been seen as pro-active, as opposed to a fence-sitter and drone-user. Obama has been trumped (sic) in Syria by Putin and Iran, and his strategies are most difficult to fathom. His one achievement has been to “stay out of trouble”. It is as if he is spooked by leadership. Leadership means that there are times when you must lead and not stand back and talk ad nausea.

J-Street were emboldened by Obama. They would not be emboldened by Hillary Clinton but would love the Jew who avoid his Jewishness, Bernie Sanders. Sanders would be an unmitigated socialist disaster for the USA and Israel.

Why all the brouhaha about Mikvaos in Israel for Reform

The laws of a Mikva are of the most complex that exist. They are riddled with minutiae and disagreement among even later day Rabbis. Reform has never shown an interest in archaic Rabbinic tradition, their arguments, Talmudic or otherwise; it’s about a ritual. As such, I don’t see why a Hot Pool of any type can’t be used for Reform conversions (I am unaware of them ever ruling that the minutiae of “old archaic” Rabbinic tradition should be upheld). It would be much cheaper.

Reform Judaism’s governing bodies dropped the requirement for immersion more than a century ago. The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 stated: “We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its [ancient] national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only the moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.” Thus did the Reform rabbinic authorities renounce – without banning – any and all requirements for ritual, including those involving mikveh. In 1977 Rabbi Walter Jacob commented that “the custom has fallen into disuse….Ritual immersion has completely ceased to be practiced for niddah [separation of spouses during menstruation] and is followed only by a small percentage within the Orthodox community” [Contemporary American Reform Responsa].

If they want to revive it, , perhaps in keeping with Reform philosophy, it’s time to invent an up to date,  modern “equivalent”.
If for some reason they would like a specific set of pools for this purpose, then let it be a user-pays situation.

Reform Jews are using mikvaot today in a wide variety of alternative ways: to mark lifecycle events or a change of personal status, to celebrate joy or sanctify grief. Immersions before a bat or bar mitzvah, to mark divorce or the death of a loved one, to celebrate graduation or a trip to Israel, as gratitude after recovery from a serious illness are increasingly common. And while mikveh is traditionally practiced in privacy, some liberal mikvaot are hosting groups, including women marking the onset of menopause and men taking their sons before the High Holidays.

See here for more

Sarah Hatsman, Reform Clergy, introduces new hand washing procedures with the Mikvah, and mindfulness.

 

 

The Mikvah is used by Orthodox women monthly. It is most likely that it is only used for a Reform Conversion and perhaps? before a wedding. On that basis, the State should withdraw funding from all Mikvaos and make admission based on a user pays affiliation to the type of Mikva.

Would the State fund Baptism Pools as well?

The same if true of Conservative (Masorti). There are plenty of US donors who would pay for these customised pools and rules.

Separation of Religion and State needs to occur in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate no longer is respected and has managed to descend a level each time there are new appointees.

Which Mikveh does the transexual, or fluid sexual go to?

The majority of people are aligned with traditional orthodoxy and will always be and have little to do with Reform  or Conservatives. These are mainly American phenomena that has been imported in small quantities into Israel.

Finally note the inequality. Male Orthodox Jews do not have the same requirements of a Mikva as a female. As such, according to many authorities they may be ritually cleaned in a swimming pool or a 4-5 minute shower. Certainly, it doesn’t have the “feel” and “preparation” of going to a Male Mikva, however, there is much that needs to be improved in the lack of Tznius in Male Mikvaos, which unfortunately isn’t being addressed by anyone it would seem.

Nobody complains about that. Perhaps feminists should argue they should have the easier rules as per men?

PS. The “diplobabble from some Shas MPs makes me cringe”.

Top court rules public ritual baths open to all Jewish conversions

The following story appeared in multiple news outlets. Reform and Conservative will see it as a “victory”. I see it as stupidity if they do:

It’s a secular civil matter involving money of the state. As such, Xian, Hindu, and Arabs would also be able to apply to use such Mikvaos for ritual cleansing if they applied and were Israeli Citizens. Melanie Landau might delight in this “equality”, but the difference is that Open, Conservative and Reform versions are simply closer religions to Judaism. That’s all. Their converts are not accepted as traditional Jews any more than RMG Rabi’s are.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that people undergoing a non-Orthodox Jewish conversation are entitled to immerse themselves in a public ritual bath as part of the ceremony, striking down a lower court’s decision to the contrary.

The justices accepted an appeal by the Masorti Movement and the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel against a ruling which banned non-Orthodox converts from using state-funded mikvehs.

The Supreme Court’s decision was hailed as a victory for non-Orthodox streams and a blow to the Chief Rabbinate. Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called it “outrageous.”

The court made clear that while it ruled on a specific case against the religious authorities in Beersheba, where the case was first discussed, its ruling applies throughout Israel.

The appellants argued that immersing in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion ought to be considered a “religious service” and as such should be provided by local religious authorities by law, with no distinction between conversion or other ritual needs. The appellants added that the attempt to distinguish between people using the mikveh when converting in the state’s official program and those converting via an alternative stream constituted illegal discrimination.

They contended that in so doing, the religious authorities in Beersheba also discriminated in granting services, products, and entry to public facilities.

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who ruled in the case along with Salim Joubran and Chief Justice Miriam Naor, wrote in the decision, according to Haaretz: “Once it established public mikvehs and put them at the service of the public – including for the process of conversion – the state cannot but be evenhanded in allowing their use.”

“The State of Israel is free to supervise the use of its mikvehs, so long as it does so in an egalitarian manner,” he added. “The state’s choice not to supervise immersion done as part of private conversion programs does not justify the prevention of such immersion.”
Chief Rabbi Yosef said the court’s “miserable decision to allow reform Jews and Conservatives to immerse in mikveh baths intended to serve the entire public is outrageous. Reform Jews are making use of halacha for their needs when it is convenient and are undermining the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. The court cannot on the one hand satisfy a small minority, and on the other gravely harm thousands of Jews interested in Jewish life according to halacha and in keeping the true Jewish identity of the state.”

Representatives of the non-Orthodox movements commended the court’s decision.
Director of the Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said that the ruling “echoes from Jerusalem to the edge of the land, and will resonate across the wide Jewish world,” calling it “a clear decision that Conservative and Reform Jews are not stepchildren in the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of Reform Jews in the country, said the verdict “is another significant step on the road to full recognition of Reform and Conservative Judaism in Israel.” He promised: “We will continue the effort to complete this journey in the coming years.”

The Fallacy, Delusion and Myth of Tikkun Olam

Everyone wants to (or should aspire to) improve the world. The words “Tikkun Olam” (fixing (sic) the world) though have been exchanged as the task of a Jew. The problem is that Tikkun is not defined, ill-defined, or defined in a virtual partial vacuum of traditional Orthodox Judaism. It has become a catch cry of tree huggers, New Israel Fund supporters, Reform, Ameinu, Conservative, Shira Chadasha and Conservadox. Ironically, none of these groups recite it in the Aleinu Prayer thrice daily. Eating in a “vegetarian restaurant” or sharing “interfaith hands” and more, have become the new flag of a newly defined version of Judaism. Judaism is not defined by Jews. There are halachic formulae distributed at Sinai. These are applied. They are not created. The further we are from Sinai the more careful we must be to check innovations and new decisions with recognised leaders in the application of the formulae. It’s almost laughable that these Tikkun Olamniks will enter into a Buddhist temple (with its blatant idolatry) barefooted to show their respect for Buddhists, but they will (occasionally) visit a JEWISH Shule, without wearing the customary hat for women, sleeves, longer dress or skirt, or iPhone in pocket, discussing football or other things ad nauseam. I would like a dollar for the number of speeches at Bar and Bat Mitzvas where the “themes” have nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism or Jewish truths. Enough from me. Here is a nice article on the topic from the Algemeiner Journal [Hat tip Magyaro] which is worth reading.

It is so very difficult, indeed utterly unbearable, to sit silently by while Jews, and now the general religious and secular communities, completely misuse and distort the term Tikkun Olam– certainly not intentionally or out of any malice, but rather out of ignorance in the pursuit of virtuous goals and principles which may be applicable to general society and civilization but which have tragically become a poor substitute for authentic religious observance.

This repair rhetoric has become an obsession, a catch-all credo. Everything today is Tikkun Olam. Enough with the Tikkun Olam. It is a senseless and meaningless misconception, its true meaning nothing like it is commonly used and purported to be.

It is not at all a centuries-old tradition, it is not a call to action, and it is not a commandment. And to be clear, Tikkun Olam does not even mean repairing the world in the sense of social justice. Nor in traditional sources is Tikkun Olam in any way even a direct human imperative or action, but rather one that is left in G-d’s hands.

We cannot, and are not instructed to, save the world, or even to repair it. Judaism teaches no such thing. Rather, we are instructed to conduct ourselves properly, to observe the Mitzvos, the Commandments (which are not good deeds, but rather commandments, required imperatives), and in that way to contribute to society and civilization both by example and through practice and action.

For Jews those Mitzvos include not simply socially or politically correct precepts such as giving charity and engaging in political action, but also observance of the Sabbath, dietary restrictions (Kashrus), daily prayer, and other commandments which seem to have fallen out of favor and are ignored, if not openly denigrated and violated, in some segments of the community, as they substitute the false panacea of something they call Tikkun Olam for the authenticity of true Judaism, clinging desperately to Tikkun Olam to avoid their actual responsibilities as Jews to observe the Torah and the commandments.

The term and concept Tikkun Olam appears nowhere in the Torah itself, but first appears only in the Mishna and Talmud in the context of the courts and halakhic (legal) regulations involving disputes and legal rights.

Subsequently in Kabbalah the term was used to refer to the upper worlds or to the repair of the individual soul damaged by the sin of violating or neglecting Jewish law. Following that, the only mention of Tikkun Olam in prayer is in the Aleinu prayer recited at the conclusion of every service, but even in that context it means either that G-d, not man, will ultimately repair the world, or, as others interpret, it does not mean repair of the world at all but rather is a prayer for the uprooting of idolatry, the rebuilding of the Temple and establishing G-d’s kingdom on earth, through the observance of the commandments and not through any separate social imperative.

Indeed, scholars from across the spectrum and diversity of the Jewish community have acknowledged and bemoan the misuse and distortion of the term Tikkun Olam by the community.

Thus Rabbi Jill Jacobs observed years ago (Zeek, July 2007) that, “In its current incarnation, Tikkun Olam can refer to anything from a direct service project such as working in a soup kitchen or shelter, to political action, to philanthropy. While once regarded as the property of the left, the term is now widely used by mainstream groups such as synagogues, camps, schools, and federations, as well as by more rightwing groups wishing to cast their own political agendas within the framework of Tikkun Olam.”

After quoting Arnold Jacob Wolf (“Repairing Tikkun Olam,” Judaism 50:4), who writes, “All this begins, I believe, with distorting tikkun olam. A teaching about compromise, sharpening, trimming and humanizing rabbinic law, a mystical doctrine about putting God’s world back together again, this strange and half-understood notion becomes a huge umbrella under which our petty moral concerns and political panaceas can come in out of the rain,” Jacobs points out that one of the key figures in the Kabbalistic school of thought which developed the concept of Tikkun Olam was the same person who codified Jewish law, since it is individual observance of halakha, Jewish law, which is the way to repair the world.

Professor Steven Plaut of Haifa University wrote about “The Rise of Tikun Olam Paganism” (The Jewish Press, January 23, 2003), calling it a “pseudo-religion,” “social action fetishism” (The Jewish Press, November 19, 2008) and a “vulgar misuse and distortion by assimilationists.” He concludes that Tikkun Olam is quite clearly “a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one,” observing that, “It would be an exaggeration, but only a small one, to say that nothing in Judaism directs us to the pursuit of social (as opposed to judicial) justice.”

Most recently there was the publication earlier this year by Oxford University Press of the scholarly book Faith Finding Meaning: A Theology of Judaism by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, which also highlights the current fallacy (pages 33-35). Calling it “a blatant distortion of the meaning of the term,” a “substitute faith” and a “shibboleth,” he writes that “the current [promiscuous] usage of this term represents a category mistake, is a blatant example of conversion by redefinition, and constitutes a paradigmatic example of the reductionist fallacy” which is merely “liberation theology without the theology.” He concludes, “Tikkun Olam means ‘for the proper order of the Jewish community.’ It is a long way from that definition to ‘build a better world.’”

Please. Everyone. Enough with the Tikkun Olam. For Jews who truly do want to engage in Tikkun Olam, the only honest and authentic Jewish way to do that is to encourage observance of the Torah across the entire spectrum of the Jewish Community. That in fact is actually what our responsibility is, nothing more and nothing less, and the rest is up to G-d—if we do our part, so will G-d.

Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff, the Zvhil-Mezbuz Rebbe of Boston, is Chaplain of The City of Boston and spiritual leader of the Zvhil-Mezbuz Beis Medrash in downtown Boston and Newton. This column first appeared in The Jewish Advocate of Boston.

Rabbi Riskin on the conversion issue

[Hat tip MD]

Original in hebrew is here

Rabbi Riskin: Haredim are the greatest reformers

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin came out strongly against the ultra-Orthodoxas a result of their opposition to the law, saying “The Haredim are the greatest reformers. Justifying only one way is to Catholicism and the Pope”

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi of Efrat and founder of Ohr Torah Stone institutions, has slammed the haredi opposition to the law after the conversion  waves on Israel Radio. “I do not understand the thing. Yes, I  there is a commandment of “love the convert. “Yes, I think that the Chief Rabbinate until now did not know what it means is to convert properly with love and care. How do they have the audacity to say the conversions I perform are not in accordance with  Jewish law? “said Rabbi Riskin.

“Their behavior regarding conversion law is contrary to Halacha. Unfortunately, the Haredim are the greatest reformers, on many  things. Including enlisting in the IDF, because there is no section in the Talmud, where it says there Torah in respect of the laws of saving people’s lives in action. There is room for dissenting opinion in Judaism. One who claims there is only one way this is not not Judaism, but Catholicism and the Pope. ”

“The government has taken a bold step in favor of the unity of Israel, a move that will prevent a split into two peoples: Jews and Israelis,” said Rabbi Riskin. “I hope the Chief Rabbinate understands that we, city rabbis, are completely dedicated to Halacha and as in all generations there were dissenting students of Hillel and Shammai offering a different interpretation. We unite and will not split, we will talk and not boycott. This is about the lives of human beings and the future of our people.”

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